Accounting for dummies (or Lancashire for Shale)

It was with absolute incredulity that we read the latest effluent from industry front group Lancashire For Shale, claiming that

“Campaigners protesting against Cuadrilla’s shale gas exploration works have today forced the closure of the A583 for the second time this week, at a potential cost to the economy of over half a million pounds a day.”

(The first point we obviously need to make here is that we are aware that the road was closed three times but two of those closures were caused by Cuadrilla, not by the protectors as claimed here. Let’s move on – it doesn’t get a lot better)

As you can imagine we were eager to see how they got to such a ridiculous figure and we weren’t disappointed.

Here’s their logic:

According to government estimates, traffic congestion costs the UK economy around £3 billion a year, with a quarter of that attributed to incidents, including like this.

This means that as well as the direct disruption caused to Cuadrilla’s site construction works, prolonged closures of Preston New Road due to protestor activity could be costing the wider economy over £85,000 an hour. The cost of a five-and-a-half hour closure of the road between 9:30am and 3:00pm, when Cuadrilla is currently permitted to operate, could therefore reach as high as £467,500.

So let’s take this step by step shall we?

First of all their link goes to a page headed “Tackling £1 billion cost of motorway closures“. Last time I looked Preston New Road wasn’t a motorway, but let’s not be too uncharitable. Lancashire for Shale are on a mission and we are now living in a post-truth world. Let’s carry on.

So what about the £3 billion figure? Well actually the report linked to talks about “the shocking £1 billion cost of those lost hours for our economy” – oops. It does mention “DfT funding of around £3 million for laser scanning technology that can be used by the police for surveying incident scenes“. Are we getting the distinct impression that somebody just did a quick Google and didn’t read the page very carefully? I think we are. Never mind let’s plough on and see what sort of silk purse they are trying to make from this sows ear – how good are these people at business projections?

It would seem that they are trying to take a figure for the entire UK – a quarter of their invented  £3 billion – and dividing that into an hourly rate and getting to a figure of £85,000 an hour. OK so if they were actually using relevant data (which they are not) we could conclude that nationally the total of all of the traffic incidents in the whole of the UK causes congestion which costs the entire UK economy an average £85,000 an hour. That’s the entire UK economy. So then they take the number of hours that the road might be closed for if it were closed all the working day, multiply that by the cost to the entire UK economy of every traffic incident and claim that’s the impact on the “wider economy” of a closure of a single A road in the Fylde. Can anybody else see the logical flaw in that argument? If you can’t please don’t ever try to do business with me!

Of course we had the usual jowl wobbling from Tony “Bananas” Raynor who claimed, presumably on the basis of the wonderful accounting above, that “Forcing the closure of the A583 today for such an extended period, preventing businesses from going about their daily work, will be having an unseen but significant impact on the local economy and can’t be tolerated.

What a shame for his remaining credibility that his pals at Cuadrilla closed the road twice the following day themselves.

The greater shame though is that this claim got repeated in the local press.

Its not as if Mr Raynor can claim he doesn’t know what Lancashire For Shale are saying is it – after all he is on their steering group, we can see here

I’m sure that if we bring this to their attention they will be eager to correct the misinformation as soon as they can.

It’s interesting to see the utter lack of critical analysis from the usual pro-shale shills who simply parrot and share whatever is in their own echo chamber, regardless of how ludicrous it actually may be. Top work Michael!

And of course Backing racking couldn’t resist getting in on the act either

Perhaps we should get some real Lancashire businesspeople and residents, who employ competent accountants, to tell us how much the closure of one lane of the road will cost over the construction period, and over the projected period of fracking, which requires huge numbers of HGV and truck deliveries.

Perhaps we should also assess the risk to people needing ambulance emergency transport resulting from of being held up by the traffic lights and one-way system from which there is no exit due to the metal Heras fencing. This is no flight of fancy, this has already happened and was nothing to do with any protest.

You may also like...